Revisions of the "Ratio"
for the formation of the Salesian Brothers
The present Ratio (formation of the SDB) was published in 2000.
After 10 years, the General Council decided not to produce a new Ratio,
but to rewrite those parts that were obsolete or insufficient.
So, in 2009: a rewrite of chapter 6 on the pre-birth;
In January 2012: a rewriting of the formation of Salesian Brothers, approved by the Rector
Major and his Council.
Why was it necessary to review the formation of the Salesian brothers?
1. The existing formation program of the Salesians Brothers was limited, uncertain and
easily subject to improvisation.
Necessary: a clear and complete training program.
2. Very little attention to vocational discernment during the formation process;
Limited experience given to the Brothers of the lay dimension of their vocation;
No clear criteria to distinguish the vocation of a brother from that of a priest.
Cases of brothers who pass to the priesthood.
3. Academic studies were not considered important for the Salesians.
Philosophical and pedagogical, theological and pastoral studies: "tolerated".
4. Not much importance has been given to the professional formation of Salesian brothers.
It was not even part of their training process.
The GC26 introduced a new perspective: a single Salesian consecrated vocation in two forms.
It is necessary to feel that the Salesian brothers have a "quality formation" that allows them to live their
true identity and to meet the apostolic needs of the present.
The GC26 has changed the way of looking at and presenting the vocation of the Salesian
Brother in the prenovitiate. Our Salesian identity is not a question of what we do but of what we are.
We Salesians are first of all the consecrated persons who, inspired by God, have chosen,
after the example of Don Bosco, to follow Jesus by giving us completely to God in
service of young people - what service we do both at the priestly level or in a secular way.
Helping the Provinces to present the Salesian vocation in the right way, Formation
The Department, in 2009, distributed around 80 pages of ready material in the form of 15 sessions to
be used in aspirantates and prenovitiates.
In 2012, the Rector Major and his Council promulgated an intellectual
formation program for initial formation. The prenovitiates were called to promote:
knowledge and love for Don Bosco, the
awareness and appreciation of the Salesian Congregation in the world, the
understanding of Salesian consecrated life and its two forms, ministerial and lay,
a reading of the biographies of excellence, examples of both forms of Salesian consecrated life.
Furthermore, the Congregation asked that in the team of prenovitiate formation guides "there should
be at least one Salesian brother to allow the prenovices to have a direct knowledge of the
two forms of the Salesian vocation".
The new guidelines have clarified that:
all the years up to the pre-novitiate, all the candidates and prenovices must have
a good knowledge and experience of the only Salesian vocation in its two forms,
but they are not yet required to choose between Priesthood and Salesian brotherhood .This
decision must be taken later.
These changes concerning the prenovitiate indirectly influence:
the aspirantate: the practice of separated aspirants for candidates to
the Salesian priesthood and candidates for the Salesian confraternity does not seem to be valid today;
vocation promotion: a correct presentation of the Salesian vocation requires that the
Salesian priesthood and Salesian brotherhood be presented as two ways of living the same
The new guidelines require that each novice discern his vocation as a future Salesian
priestor future Salesian brother before presenting his first profession; in fact, he must declare his
professional decision in his first profession application.
With the help of the director of novices, the novice must discern whether, in pastoral
work with young people, he has a greater inclination to
be "a witness of the Kingdom of God in the world, near as he is to young people and
the reality of life work "(C 45), or towards
or towards being" a sign of Christ the Good Shepherd, especially by preaching the
Gospel and administering the sacraments "(C 45).
The Provincial is also involved in this process of discernment.
To encourage adequate discernment and to highlight the Salesian consecrated vocation,
if there is the custom of giving the Salesian clerics the habit during the novitiate,
this is postponed until the end of the novitiate.
The post- novitiate training program includes a series of topics such as philosophy,
pedagogy, Sacred Scripture, Christian faith, Salesian studies, psychology, sociology and
Philosophy, the main subject, allows us to use his reason to arrive at a deeper
understanding of the person, his freedom and his relationship with the world and with God.
The study of philosophy is important for anyone who wants to understand, for example, the
postmodern thought of young people, the prevalent relativism in many parts of the world, the defects of
Marxism, the question of creationism against evolution and a myriad of many other current problems .
For this reason it is an integral part of the formation of the Salesian Brother, who is called to be
an educator of the young.
According to the new guidelines, "the duration of philosophical and pedagogical studies for
the Salesian brother during the post-novitiate should be at least two years, but no more than three.
During the last year of the post-novitiate, each Brother, assisted by his Rector and from the
Provincial discerns the professional area
(academic school, professional training, social communication, social work, different
aspects of administration and management, etc.)
in which he feels called to develop his gifts and his abilities in response to the needs of the
Technical, scientific or professional training
Immediately after the post-novitiate, the brother is given the opportunity to engage
"Technical, scientific or professional studies" to qualify for the profession he has chosen.
Why this training step?
1) It is necessary that the Brother has a serious and direct contact with the professional
field, that is, with the lay aspect of his vocation before his perpetual profession;
2) It seems obvious that, if the Brother has to have a position as an educator among the
young during his practical training, he needs to have some training and qualifications in
the professional field.
On this point, there is much agreement in principle, but a lot of divergence in practice.
Because situations vary considerably from one province to another.
Each Province must take into account the circumstances and devise the best possible plan
to ensure the professional training of its Brothers, if possible before practical training.
The new guidelines suggest that siblings should preferably be placed in situations where they
can exercise the professional qualifications they have acquired.
Specific formation is not something optional for the Salesian Brothers; it is a part of their
regular training scheme.
C 116. "After practical training the Salesian continues to complete initial formation ... The
specific formation of the lay Salesian offers him the opportunity to deepen his knowledge of
the spiritual patrimony of the Congregation. He receives adequate adequate theological preparation
to his status as consecrated laity and completes his formation in view of his subsequent
work in apostolic education . "
Today there are 6 regional or interregional centers approved by the Rector Major and his
Council for the two-year specific formation program for the Salesian brothers:
Manila in the Philippines for the East Asia Region - Oceania;
Shillong in India for the region South Asia,
Yaoundé in Cameroon for Salesians in Francophone Africa,
Sunyani in Ghana for English-speaking African Salesians,
Guatemala for the two Regions of America,
Turin for the three regions of Europe.
Moreover, Turin is also a center open to Salesian Brothers from all regions of the
The specific formation of Brothers is the answer to a particular need.
The brothers need to nourish their daily lives on the Word of God; Holy Scripture.
Many moral questions (abortion, euthanasia, contraception, gay marriage and population
control ...) require an answer: moral theology.
The issues that concern humanity such as human rights, peace and justice, the morality of war,
trafficking in human beings, the development of the third world and globalization find the guidelines in: The social teaching of
The brothers must learn the theology of consecrated life;
They must know about the growth of their spiritual life: spiritual theology;
They need a greater understanding of Salesian spirituality;
At the same time, they must be better prepared for Salesian youth ministry,
to communicate the faith to others: catechetics
and for a fruitful involvement in the field of social communication.
Since they take on positions of responsibility, they need to learn the basics of management.
Br. Cereda established two important requisites for this course:
1) a separate community for the Salesian Brothers with their Rector and the
staff offormation from the various Provinces;
2) with the exception of Salesian studies, separate classes for the Brothers, as
far as possible.
The course remains open to other religious who may wish to join the Brothers.
Preparation for perpetual profession Preparation for perpetual
profession includes "the process of discernment and
verification before making a final option, including the request, admission and immediate
preparation for the act of profession".
The program for the course, therefore, can last a year or more months and can be
done during practical training or specific training.
As far as possible it is done by the Salesian brothers and by the clerics together.
During the course the participants
meditate once again on the Constitutions
and on the fundamental themes of consecrated life;
they have a competent and expert spiritual guide who offered them to follow each
individual and the group.
Above all, Salesian clerics and Salesian brothers pay attention to a discernment
of the two forms, ministerial and lay, of the Salesian vocation in view of the final
Concretely, this means that the Salesian clerics and brothers
verify their vocation in the light of their lived experience,
mature a new personal synthesis as they reformulate their personal life plan
and conclude their discernment with the decision to permanently embrace Don Bosco's
apostolic project as a Salesian priest or a Salesian coadjutor at the service of young people,
following the path of holiness traced by the Salesian Constitutions.
In the Provinces where specific formation precedes perpetual profession, "this same careful
discernment should be undertaken before the beginning of specific formation".
The first years of full involvement in pastoral work pose new challenges and problems:
after a controlled and supervised life, full personal responsibility for his apostolic work;
therefore, a rearrangement of one's life, an adaptation to a new rhythm of life and work, a
new synthesis in one's life,
some needs begin to be felt more strongly: self-affirmation, search for fruitfulness,
personal initiative and creativity.
tension due to the discrepancy between what has been learned and what
is actually found in everyday life.
there is a feeling of inadequacy with respect to the new roles and responsibilities.
Consequently, each Province chooses the ways in which it intends to accompany and help its own
young Priests and Brothers in their first five years of insertion in the educational and pastoral work
of the Province after their specific formation.
In particular initiatives and programs, both priests and brothers take part together.
Specialization is different from specific training.
After specific formation, every Salesian Brother, as a rule and according to need, "should"
have the opportunity to complete a certain specialization in the specific field of his profession.
Br. Cereda recommends that, in the case of Brothers,
studies for a License take place between 2 and 5 years after Perpetual
if they are chosen to do research or work in study centers, their doctoral studies
should be undertaken about 3 to 5 years after the completion of the license.
Guidelines for professional qualifications at higher levels should follow similar lines.
This is a general picture of the formation of the Salesian Brother today.
Each Province must consider its own situation and indicate in the Formation section of
the Provincial Directory the formative itinerary for its Salesian Brothers.
What fruits are expected from this revision of the formation of the Salesian Brother?
1) a greater awareness and a clearer idea of the identity of the Salesian brothers;
2) a greater commitment to promoting the vocation of the Salesian brother, within the
framework suggested by the GC26, ie. a single vocation in two forms.
3) a new type of integration of Salesian brothers into our educational and pastoral communities,
ie. Brothers who offer their specific contribution and become very visible in
educational and pastoral activities.